Our Top Bike Helmet Picks For Every Kid and Every Budget
Bike helmets are not accessories; they are safety equipment that provide essential life-saving protection for kids. Based on performance and quality of construction, here are our top 10 helmets for general bike riding for kids.
If you have a child with a small head, check out 10 Best Bike Helmets for Babies and Toddlers.
Best Overall – Young Kids
SIZES: XS (45 – 49 cm), S (49 – 53 cm)
FEATURES: Flat back for trailer or bike seat use, in-mold construction, dial-adjust fit, built-in visor, pinch-guard buckle, and optional MIPS technology
FULL REVIEW: Giro Scamp
The Scamp is everything a helmet should be at a very reasonable price. Lightweight with a dial-adjust system and built with optional MIPS technology, the Scamp doesn’t have any extra bells and whistles, but its simplicity makes it easy to use and easy on the wallet. With just a $55 price tag for the Scamp with MIPS, it’s one of the most reasonably priced MIPS helmets available. From a kid perspective, it’s consistently been one of our testers’ favorites because it’s so lightweight and comfortable. The Scamp is a win-win!
Best Overall – Older Kids
ONE SIZE: Youth 50 – 57 cm
FEATURES: Rubber-grip dial-adjust knob, side straps that don’t need adjusting, higher-quality internal pads, in-mold construction, sturdy and removable visor, upgraded MIPS technology
FULL REVIEW: Giro Tremor
The Tremor is similar to the very popular Bell Sidetrack, except that for just $5 more, it’s a much better helmet. Its high-quality fit and adjust system is simple to use – with a larger, rubber-grip dial-adjust knob that’s easier to turn, and soft side straps that don’t need adjusting, the Tremor makes fine-tuning a proper fit a breeze. Giro also made comfort a high priority with internal pads that are made of top-notch technical material and air channels in the pads for less head sweat. To top it off, the MIPS model of the Tremor features an updated MIPS system that has less plastic for better air flow.
Best Bang for Your Buck
SIZES: XS/S (47 – 52 cm), S/M (52 – 56 cm)
FEATURES: Dial-adjust fit system, fun colors, great ventilation, lightweight
Joovy Noodle helmets are the perfect mid-range helmet – offering great features at a great price. While not as high-end as the Giro or Bell helmets on our list, the Joovy is heads above any helmet you’re going to pick up at Walmart. Regularly selling for $30, and often on sale for just $20, the Joovy Noodle is not only a bang for your buck, but also one of the lightest helmets on the market.
Heavy helmets often irritate kids, who then end up taking them off when parents aren’t looking. Our testers love the Noodle because you hardly feel that you’re wearing it! Parents love the Noodle because it offers great coverage and an easy-to-use dial-adjust system for a snug and accurate fit.
Best Safety Features
SIZES: Nut’z (50 – 56 cm), P’Nut (46 – 50 cm)
FEATURES: AutoFit internal cage adjust system, pinch-proof buckle, locking chin strap sliders, in-mold construction, great ventilation, optional MIPS
FULL REVIEW: Lazer P’Nut/Nut’z
As close to a luxury as a helmet gets, the Lazer P’Nut and Nut’z helmets (same helmet, just different sizes) excel in style, performance, and safety. The Nut’z key feature is its AutoFit system that takes the human error out of fitting the helmet to your child’s head. The enclosed tension wire inside the helmet automatically adjusts for a precise fit. Additional features include a magnetic, pinch-proof buckle, locking sliders to keep the chin straps in place, a built-in visor, and numerous vents for good air circulation.
Best on a Budget
SIZES: Youth (52 – 57 cm)
The Chakra does come in a smaller Child size, but it’s more narrow and is best suited for toddlers and pre-schoolers.
FEATURES: Light-weight, in-mold construction, dial-adjust fit, great ventilation, crash replacement guarantee
FULL REVIEW: Kali Chakra
With a crash replacement guarantee, you may never need to buy your child another helmet! But seriously, we’ve actually had a helmet replaced for free after a Kali Chakra prevented a pretty serious injury to one of our riders. It’s the real deal! The Chakra is also super lightweight, compact, has 21 large vents for superb ventilation, an easy dial-adjust system, and a built-in visor. The Kali Chakra is a kid and parent favorite!
SIZES: Street S (52 – 56 cm), Street M (56 – 60cm), Little Nutty (48 – 52cm)
FEATURES: Dual-certified, dial-adjust fit, magnetic buckle, fun and funky designs
FULL REVIEW: Nutcase Street
Super safe without sacrificing style, Nutcase helmets are dual-certified for use for biking, skateboarding or scootering. Although many helmets are skater-style, many are only certified for biking use. To truly protect a child during skateboarding, the helmet must be constructed differently to protect from the multiple falls and impacts experienced by skateboarders. Nutcase helmets feature fun and funky designs as well as a dial-adjust fit, locking sliders and a magnetic buckle.
Best Mountain Bike Helmet
SIZES: Spark (50 – 57 cm), Nomad (52 – 57 cm)
FEATURES: Large ventilation holes for excellent ventilation, MIPS safety technology comes standard, sport-tech helmet pads to prevent sweat from dripping, and a dial-adjustment system for the perfect fit
The Spark Jr. MIPS is Bell’s newest (2019) offering for kid’s mountain bike helmets. With fantastic coverage and ventilation, this Enduro-style helmet will keep your kid’s noggin’ safe while they shred in style. The Nomad Jr. MIPS is a more budget-friendly version of the Spark, but both come standard with MIPS safety technology.
While the Nomad is made to fit larger heads (minimum head circumference of 52 cm vs. 50 on the Spark), it’s significantly more narrow than the Spark. As a result, it may actually be more difficult to fit on larger heads. If your child has a wide head, you’ll need to get the Spark instead of the Nomad. Additionally, the MIPS anchors on the Spark are covered, while on the Nomad, they’re exposed. Exposed MIPS anchors easily snag on long hair, so the Spark would also be a better choice than the Nomad for most girls.
Best True Cycling
ONE SIZE: Youth (50 – 57 cm)
FEATURES: Airflow channels and 22 vents for superior ventilation, high-quality and easy-to-use adjustment system, technical fabric on padding, upgraded MIPS system
FULL REVIEW: Giro Hale
The Giro Hale is an update and serious upgrade to Giro’s Raze youth helmet. Weighing in at just 247 grams and with 22 vents, the Hale is lightweight and boasts some serious ventilation for less sweat and a more comfortable ride. The high-quality technical material on the sealed internal pads also help keep your child’s head cool and dry(er). The fit adjustment system is simplified and easy to use, and the optional MIPS model now comes with an updated MIPS system that has less plastic for less head sweat.
ONE SIZE: 50 – 54 cm
FEATURES: Unique non-pinch ratcheting buckle, locking chin strap sliders, durable in-mold construction, optional LED flashing light attachment
FULL REVIEW: Uvex Quatro Junior
The Uvex Quatro is a well-designed, well-built helmet with lots of vents, but its unique ratcheting buckle is what really makes it shine! Having tested many different buckling systems, Uvex’s is the only buckle that we haven’t accidentally pinched a child with.
The size of the Quatro is also unique. Larger than most toddler helmets, but not as large as most youth helmets, the Quatro is the perfect fit for kids who need that rare in-between size. Its narrower fit range (just 4 cm of adjustability) allows the helmet to fit more securely, and is also less bulky on smaller heads as compared to most “youth” size helmets.
SIZE: Youth (50 – 57 cm)
FEATURES: Ergo Fit dial-adjust system, in-mold construction, durable snap-in visor (removable), optional MIPS
FULL REVIEW: Bell Sidetrack
Styled like an adult mountain bike helmet, the Bell Sidetrack Youth offers the safety features parents desire along with a sporty and modern design kids love. A helmet can only protect your child or tween if they’re wearing it – Sidetrack to the rescue by making helmet wearing cool again! Built with durable, in-mold construction and a sturdy dial-adjust system, the Sidetrack is also well ventilated for comfort. The Sidetrack is available with MIPS safety technology to minimize injuries from impacts at sharp angles. Safe, comfortable, durable, easily adjustable, and just plain cool, the Sidetrack has it all!
How to Choose the Best Helmet for your 5 to 12-year-old
For a more detailed discussion about how to choose and fit the perfect kid’s bike helmet, check out our post: Kids’ Bike Helmets: How to Choose. If you’re looking for something quick, here’s a short summary of the most important things to look for to find the best helmet for kids approximately 5 to 12-years-old.
If a child’s bike helmet doesn’t fit, it’s not going to help protect their head in the event of a crash! Helmet sizes come in ranges that represent the circumference of your child’s head. For example, a helmet with a size range of 52 – 57 cm fits kids with a head circumference in that range.
That said, helmet sizing can actually be a bit tricky because everyone’s head isn’t shaped the same. Some kids have wide heads, others narrow. Some helmets are wider, while others are more narrow. So even if your child’s head circumference fits within a helmet’s range, if your child’s head is wide and the helmet is narrow, it might not fit.
In general, skater-style helmets are rounder all the way around and are a more sure bet for kids with wide heads.
The lighter the helmet the better. Wearing a heavy helmet can get tiring over time and can make it more likely for a child to refuse to wear a helmet. As a child gets older this is less important because their neck muscles are stronger, but younger kids definitely resist wearing heavy helmets.
Once you find the right size helmet, it can still be tricky to get it adjusted correctly so that it stays snuggly on your child’s head. The easiest helmets to adjust for a perfect fit have a dial-adjust system at the back of the helmet that makes the helmet’s inner cage larger or smaller to cradle your child’s head.
Other (cheaper) helmets have pads of varying thickness that you swap out to get the right fit. These helmets generally don’t fit as accurately, and over time you have to swap the pads out as your child’s head grows. Hopefully you can find those pads when the time comes!
Most helmets come with standard buckles that can pinch a child’s neck when buckling or un-buckling. Higher-end helmets now feature magnetic “pinch-free” buckles. While more expensive, they are worth the price if you can afford it.
MIPS is a newer technology that adds an additional layer of safety to a helmet. If an impact occurs, a plastic inner cage rotates with your child’s head to provide better multi-directional impact protection. MIPS helmets are more expensive but are becoming very common.
Bike vs. Multi-Sport
Most bike helmets are only certified for biking use. (This also includes using a scooter.) If your child is going to be skateboarding as well, they need a dual certified helmet that is designed to protect from impacts from crashes while biking or skateboarding.
Not all helmets that are skateboard-style are actually dual certified. A dual certified helmet will have stickers on its interior that say CPSC and ASTM.
Kids’ Helmets: How to Choose: Detailed information about how to choose a helmet that fits properly.
10 Best Helmets for Babies and Toddlers: Need a smaller size? Try our list for the littlest noggins.
Helmet Comparison Charts: To view and sort through all helmets, and read reviews.